ICC Note: Christians across Pakistan are waiting and wondering what their new government will do for their community. After generations of neglect, Pakistani Christians hope that Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) will address many of the factors that have led to their marginalization. So far, the new government has been unclear on its policy towards Christians and other minorities.
08/03/2018 Pakistan (Daily Times) – Elections are over and Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has finally won. Pakistan — and the world — is watching to see if Khan can deliver on his promises of reform.
The shift from the Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PML-N) is a step in the right direction as their years in power have been bitter for the country’s Christians. Who can forget the riots in Gojra in 2009, which resulted in the horrific murder of eight Christians who were burnt to death; or the attack on Joseph Colony in 2013, which took place after Sawan Masih, a Christian man, was accused of blasphemy despite no evidence. Instead of going after the mob who burned down the settlement, Masih was sentenced by the court to death, and he remains in prison. What about Asia Bibi, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2010? Or the murders of Punjab governor Salman Taseer and minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti after they spoke in support of her release?
Despite one horrific crime after another, those in power did little to stem the tide of violence against Christians. Indeed, with such a poor track record on minority issues, there are few Christians in Pakistan sad to see the PML-N go.
However, minorities are not ready to rejoice the arrival of Khan’s PTI. Read through his election agendas and victory speech and you will notice something is missing — Khan has not outlined a specific policy to deal with minorities, forcing people to read between the lines. He spoke of his desire to make Pakistan like Madina. Khan even said: “I wanted Pakistan to become the country that my leader Quaid I Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had dreamed of.” Jinnah achieved Pakistan through a democratic struggle and believed in equality for all citizens.
But without any concrete minority agenda, nor any consultation with minority leaders, confusion and worry remain. Minorities are left asking what the future holds for non-Muslims in the Naya Pakistan? Will Khan follow the Madina state model, a western welfare system, or make the country Quaid’s Pakistan, where religion or caste or creed had nothing to do with the business of the State.
I am sure Khan must have some plans in mind on this important issue, but it is important that he takes Pakistan’s minorities into confidence, to clear all the confusion and send them a clear sign that he is friend, not foe.
His election comes at a critical time for minorities. Khan has promised major reforms, particularly in the areas of welfare and governance, and there are many minorities who have been hoping that his coming to power will indeed usher in a new, more equal, cleaner and fairer Pakistan for all.
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